When our head hurts, we think of a headache. When a tooth hurts, we think cavity. When our eyes hurt, we may not know what to think. Here, we discuss some of the common causes of eye pain and answer the big question: “should I see a doctor?”
Types of Eye Pain
Part of the confusion about eye pain is that it can be somewhat difficult to know what hurts. There is ocular eye pain and orbital eye pain. Ocular eye pain may feel like itching, burning, or stinging of the surface of the eye. Orbital pain could be an aching or stabbing sensation that feels like it is behind the eyeball. Neither type of pain is necessarily urgent, unless pain coincides with a dramatic change in vision. In that instance, it is necessary to go to the nearest emergency room.
The Leading Cause of Eye Pain
The most common reason people seek medical care for eye pain is because they have something in the eye. In addition to feeling a foreign body sensation, symptoms may include:
- Itching, burning, or stinging
- Excessive tearing
- Sensitivity to light
- Inability to keep the eyelid open
Having something in the eye is more than a nuisance. A foreign body could cause corneal abrasion, a scratch on the cornea, that can take several days to heal. To remove the foreign object, it is necessary to flush the eye. This may require the assistance of a medical professional. If rinsing the eye at home does not end discomfort, it may be necessary to go to the doctor or urgent care center.
Additional Causes of Eye Pain
Infections account for the next highest percentage of eye pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 million people seek medical care for eye infections every year. The symptoms of an eye infection can be similar to those of a foreign object. Additionally, infection can cause swelling and discharge. Common eye infections include conjunctivitis, which could be bacterial or viral, and viral eye infections caused by the herpes simplex virus or zoster virus. Most often, eye infections can be treated with home care and topical antibiotics. Some viral infections require antiviral medicine.
Orbital Pain Needs a Doctor’s Care
Orbital pain could be caused by a number of underlying conditions. Glaucoma is a common one, affecting approximately 3 million Americans. Other reasons for orbital pain include having an autoimmune disorder or inflammation of the optic nerve. In any case, because orbital pain may indicate pressure on the optic nerve, it is necessary to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist right away.
We are proud to provide patients in the Ocala area with friendly, professional care. To schedule an appointment with us, call (352) 237-8400.